Dark Shadows: Little Antique Shop of Horrors

Or, more about the Leviathans.

When Barnabas returns to 1969 via the Hydra temple, he seems remarkable cold and unemotional. His friend Dr. Julia Hoffman, who has been worried about him for weeks, notices it right away, but he won’t tell her what happened or if he learned anything that would help cure Chris of his werewolfism. He’s no longer interested in helping Chris.

Barnabas appears at the temple

He tells her that he returned from the past the same way that he went there–by using the I Ching wands–but she knows he’s lying. She was in the house when he returned and knows that he didn’t come upstairs from the basement.

Julia is extremely curious about the box that Barnabas has brought back from the past with him. It has the same Hydra device on it as the stone above the altar at the temple. He refuses to answer her questions about it and won’t even let her touch it. But of course she does manage to get her hands on it–and hears the sound of heavy breathing coming from within, as if Darth Vader had been compressed and locked up inside.

In spite of this breathing noise, she still tries to get the box open, when Barnabas sees what she’s doing and stops her. The ensuing argument causes a rift between them that will last for some time.

Barnabas has plans for the box that involve someone he calls The Chosen One. The multi-headed serpent symbol that I’ve been calling a Hydra turns out to be something Barnabas calls the “Sign of the Naga–a creature without a soul.” He will know the Chosen One because that person will be wearing the Sign when he or she comes to him.

There’s a knock on the door. He answers it to find the nice young couple who’ve just opened an antique shop in Collinsport, Megan and Philip Todd. They’re friends of Carolyn’s and she told them that there were plenty of antiques at the old house that Barnabas might be willing to sell.

Antique Shop I knew that they were going to be important the first time we met them at their shop, since Megan is played by Marie Wallace, who we’ve previously seen as Evil Eve and Mad Jenny. Megan is wearing the Naga Sign as a pendant.

Megan notices the box with the same Sign on it in Barnabas’s parlor right away and seems attracted to it. Barnabas refuses to sell it to Philip then, but he takes it over to the shop to give to Megan a little later, as a gift for her and not merchandise to be resold.

The Todds hear the heavy breathing too, but in spite of their misgivings about what might be inside, they unlock the box and open it. There’s a sort of soft woosh! sound like air (or something else) escaping.

The Leviathan book

Inside the box is a large book in a language the Todds don’t recognize with illustrations. The Sign of the Naga is prominent on one page. There’s also a scroll that contains that same poem Barnabas recited when he returned from the past: “The water will nourish each grain of sand. The flesh will be restored.”

That night, Barnabas appears to Megan in a dream and tells her that she must sanctify this room. The windows must be blocked so that no light can get in, and only necessary furniture should be kept. Only other Chosen people will be allowed to enter.

The room Barnabas speaks of is the Todds’ bedroom over the shop. I wondered if Megan’s husband was going to object to her odd ideas about redecorating. But when Megan awakes, she finds Philip gone. He’s received similar dream-instructions and has already gone downstairs to get some boards to nail over the windows.

By daybreak, the room is ready for whatever purpose it’s meant to fulfill. “Necessary” furniture doesn’t include the bed. I assume the Todds moved it to another room, since they won’t be sleeping in here anymore.

Cradle Later that morning, Carolyn, who is working part-time at the shop, tries to sell an antique cradle (it looks like the same one Quentin’s baby daughter slept in in 1897), when Phillip stops her. He says that the cradle isn’t for sale and takes it up to the special room.

We’ll learn what he wants the cradle for when we hear that heavy breathing noise again, then the cradle begins to rock by itself. Although we don’t get to see it, a baby has appeared. Megan tells Carolyn and other people who notice it in the next few days that she’s taking care of her sister’s little boy, named Joseph. She slips up in the details of her story once or twice, and even mentions to Carolyn in casual conversation that she’s an only child.

Around this same time, Paul Stoddard makes his identity known to his daughter. Carolyn is naturally angry and suspicious at first. She blames him not only for abandoning her in infancy, but because her mother made herself a prisoner at Collinwood for nearly 20 years after she thought she’d killed him. Paul tells Carolyn that he had nothing to do with his friend Jason McGuire’s letting Elizabeth think she murdered him, burying an empty trunk in the basement, and blackmailing her over it. (The funny thing is that the same actor, Dennis Patrick, plays both Paul and Jason; Elizabeth never mentioned that the two men looked enough alike to be twins, except that one was dark-haired and the other is silver-fair).

Carolyn is eager to have her father back in her life, so she forgives him. She’d like him to reconcile with her mother as well, but that’s going to be a little more tricky.

When she finds out that the mysterious man Carolyn is meeting in town isn’t some inappropriate, older boyfriend but her own estranged husband, Elizabeth forbids the two to see each other again. However, Carolyn must be 21 or close to it by now, so she continues to do as she pleases. Elizabeth and her brother Roger next try to pay Paul off to force him to leave town, but he refuses to take their money.

His ex-wife isn’t the worst problem Paul Stoddard has to face now that he’s back in Collinwood. He’s being pursued by some vague threat. In his hotel room, he finds December 4 circled in red on his calendar and receives a message that ominously says, “Payment Due on Dec 4.”

Believing that these warnings mean his own doom, Paul draws a pentagram on his floor and takes a seat in the middle. It appears he’s has a brush or two with the occult before. He expects that the next knock on his door will be whoever’s demanding “Payment,” from him, but it turns out to be Carolyn.

Carolyn gives her dad a pentacle Although she doesn’t understand or entirely believe the danger he claims he’s in, she tries to offer him some protection. Very sweetly, she puts the pentacle she’s wearing–the one Barnabas gave her to protect herself from her werewolf-cousin Chris–around her father’s neck.

Paul feels safer, safe enough to venture out of his room.

When he runs into Leviathan-ensnared Barnabas at the Blue Whale, he’ll be reminded of an incident that happened at this same bar more than 20 years ago. Just before he left his family and Collinsport, he had drinks with a man with the highly suspect name of Mr. Scratch, who offered him great wealth, etc. in exchange for his most precious possession. Paul believed that this possession must be his soul, and agreed to the bargain. Even in 1969, his attitude is “Hell, go ahead and take it!”

Then Carolyn joins them and Paul realizes that there’s something much more precious to him than his soul. The Leviathans have special plans for his daughter, and they mean for him to give her away when the time comes.

At the antique shop, the Leviathan group has been growing in strength and numbers. When David steals the special book and looks into it, he becomes one of them, the master of their lore. When Paul tries to warn Elizabeth, she still wants nothing to do with him, but accepts that their daughter may be in danger. She allows Paul to come and stay at Collinwood rather than let him take Carolyn away to safety. But Elizabeth is too curious about David spending so much time at the antique shop when he’s supposed to be home, so the Leviathans bring her into their coven too. They also get Amy.

Instead of finding safety, Paul is entirely in the hands of his enemies. He winds up a prisoner in the guest bedroom, drugged, and said to be very ill. His only protection is that the Leviathan people in the house are anxious to keep Carolyn from learning about them yet. Paul’s attempts to escape and to warn others–Maggie, Dr. Hoffman, Professor Stokes–about the evil conspiracy that’s going on around them are taken for the paranoid ravings of a madman. That he names Barnabas as the ringleader doesn’t help him, since everybody likes and trusts Barnabas.

Alexander That baby in the cradle has been growing rapidly too.

After a week or so, it becomes a little boy who looks about 7 years old (he’s missing a front tooth), going by the name of Alexander. The Todds say that this is Jason’s nephew.

Another week or 10 days go by, and the child appears to be about David’s age, 12 or 13. At all three stages, the boy has a red mark on his wrist. His name is now Michael and he’s supposed to be another relative who has just lost his parents. The Todds use this fiction to explain Michael’s bad behavior.

For, once he’s old enough to speak, it becomes obvious that Alexander/Michael is an awful spoiled, selfish brat–worse than David, whom he bullies when he goes over to Collinwood to “play.” David must submit to him, since this bratty child will become the leader of the Leviathans when he reaches adult size. David is even forced to give away the keen new transistor radio his father brought back for him from a trip to Boston.

Carolyn at age 8

Paul Stoddart is the only person besides the Leviathans who perceives what the little monster really is (although Maggie witnesses the radio incident). But who listens to him? The Heavy Breathing creature also occasionally appears in the form of Carolyn when she was 8 years old, and this little girl isn’t as forgiving of Daddy’s leaving her as grown-up Carolyn is.

It’s at this point that Alexander/Michael begins to express an obsessive interest in Carolyn that promises only to get worse once he’s fully grown.

Even the Leviathan people come to realize that their future leader is out of control. They have a big book full of rules that they’re supposed to follow, and he consistently ignores them to do what he wants regardless.

Michael Both Barnabas and the boy’s surrogate father Philip try to make him behave, but he only says that they won’t dare to tell him what to do once he’s bigger than they are. Megan, on the other hand, remains a doting surrogate Mom and takes the boy’s side when anyone tries to discipline or punish him. She says they don’t understand how special he is.

While Megan still seems to be completely under the Leviathan spell, it’s through their struggles with Alexander/Michael that Barnabas and Philip begin to regain their own free will. Barnabas in particular rebels when the Leviathans strike at people he cares deeply about.

Eventually, Julia Hoffman begins to believe that Paul Stoddard is telling the truth. Not only has she observed the strange changes in Barnabas, the Todds, and Elizabeth, but she’s also noticed the little red mark on the wrists of all three boys.

When she starts poking around to find out what’s really going on, Michael orders Barnabas to kill her. Barnabas refuses. He’s been very obedient to the Leviathan dictates up until now, but he balks at murdering a friend.

In response, the Leviathans send one of those black-cloaked people who indoctrinated Barnabas in 1796. His name is Oberon, and he gives Barnabas a taste of what it would be like to be a vampire again; Barnabas has been a vampire for months in 1897, but he says that he’d rather face the dawn as one now rather than kill Julia.

Oberon then explains a little bit about who the Leviathans are, and we slip from horror into science fiction here. The Leviathans are some sort of energy beings who existed on Earth long before humans evolved. They have no form of their own, but can take the shape of humans when they choose to serve a purpose. They can also jump around in time. Oberon tells Barnabas that they’re holding Josette hostage back in the past and will see she dies if he doesn’t do what they want. Barnabas is enough himself by this time to be horrified.

He still refuses to let Julia be killed, but he suggests instead that they neutralize her as an enemy by making her one of them. The Leviathan people back down from their ultimatum and agree to this.

Barnabas tries to get Julia to open the box–one of the ways they bring people in–but it doesn’t take. Apparently, some people are immune to the Leviathans’ influence. It’s something in her “genetic structure,” Barnabas says, which surprised me. I didn’t think people talked about genes until the 1980s, and it doesn’t seem like a subject that an 18th-century man would keep on top of. Maybe he picked it up from Julia herself; she’d be more medically au courant.

When the Heavy Breathing creature isn’t in the form of a child, it spends its time in that nearly empty, boarded-up room over the antique shop. Its breathing is heavier now, less like Darth Vader and more like some large, slavering beast. We never get to see it, but we do see other people looking at it and remarking on it. Whatever the being’s true form, it’s horrible.

Paul Stoddard makes one last escape attempt to find proof that he’s telling the truth, and goes to the shop. While searching around the place, he finds his way to the door of the sealed room, unlocks it, and goes in. There’s all the proof he needs, but he doesn’t like what he finds.

Philip Todd rescues him at this point, since Paul is needed for the ceremony the Leviathans are planning with Carolyn. But the creature last known as Michael doesn’t care. It pursues Paul down into the basement room where Philip has hidden him. It’s Barnabas’s turn to come to the rescue; he speaks to the creature as if it were a large dog: “Drop it!”

It does drop Paul, who runs out of the room, but Barnabas’s hold over the Heavy Breather is growing more tenuous. His hold over Megan too, and she begins to suspect that he’s no longer entirely dedicated to the Leviathan cause.

Paul Stoddard dies

Julia is hanging around in the street outside, keeping an eye on the place since the Todds lied and told her that Paul wasn’t there. She sees Barnabas go in, and sees Paul come out soon afterward. His clothing is in shreds from when the unseen creature grabbed him and is too stunned by what’s happened to him to describe it to Julia. She takes him to Professor Stokes, who’s also ready to believe Paul now–too late. The professor observes that Paul’s clothes aren’t so much torn as “rotted”.

But the beast is still determined to get Paul in spite of the Leviathan Rules. While Stokes and Dr. Hoffman are out of the room, phoning the police, it comes into Stokes’s house. When they return, Paul is dead on the carpet.

About Kathryn L Ramage

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three calico cats. As well as being the author of numerous short stories, novellas, and essays, she is the author of "Maiden in Light," "The Wizard's Son," and "Sonnedragon," novels set on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period. All three are part of an intended series of fantasy novels that mostly take place in a dukedom called the Northlands, a part of the Norman Empire that roughly covers the north-eastern U.S.
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